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The Muppets Solve Your Breastfeeding Problems

Breastfeeding is something we mothers look forward to during pregnancy.

We want to experience that feeling.  The feeling of looking down and seeing our little rooting newborn nestling in, getting nourished from our body.

It’s one of the amazing things about being a woman.  So when breastfeeding problems pop up, and nursing doesn’t just “take off and fly” like we were expecting, it’s one of the most bitter disappointments we can bear.

It feels like failure. Miserable failure.

Pride Goeth Before a
Fall Freaking Failure

With my first, Lauren, I was a breastfeeding champion. If Le Leche ever asked me to teach a class (because of course they would), I knew I would have tons of good advice to share.

Yeah. I was that cocky. (Be thankful I didn’t have a blog then!)

Then God, who kindly humbles me, decided to give me Elena for my second time around as a parent.

Wow. It’s a good thing Le Leche never called, because I’m pretty sure they would have kicked me out of the club. After 6 months of nipple torture, The Serious Sads, and feeling like the Epic Mom Failure of the Century, Elena was on formula. (Which was actually a blessing.)

When Isabella came around a few years later, I resolved to give breastfeeding a go again. Bella and I didn’t have the “rock star quality” I had with Lauren, but since she’s the third (and they get the shaft on almost everything), I considered it a success.

So here’s what this whole experience has taught me.

Sometimes you’ll ace the latch. Your positioning will be perfect.  And you will still have breastfeeding problems, because there’s one thing you’ve forgotten to account for:  Breastfeeding requires two people.

TWO PEOPLE.

  • You. {The breastfeeder.}
  • And that other little person. {The breastfeedee.}

Nursing Personality Has a Huge Impact on Success

Some personalities translate really well into breastfeeding:  

Now that Lauren is nine, I can see why she was such an awesome breastfeeder. She has a very focused temperament. She’s a Type-A perfectionist who is project-oriented.  She was determined to ACE the first task life gave her, breastfeeding.

Then you have some personalities that completely CLASH with the traditional breastfeeding method:  

I can totally see now why breastfeeding Elena was such a disaster.  She’s a free spirit, a people person. She’s less interested in results, and more interested in the experience.  By attempting to breastfeed her the same way I breastfed Lauren, I was guaranteeing myself a huge FAIL.  I wish I had used these Gonzo tricks with her! We would have lasted a lot longer!

Some Breastfeeding Problems Can Be Solved By…

Here’s what we’re going to do to solve your breastfeeding problems:

  1. Go through the different personality types (using the Muppets, because it’s fun).
  2. Discuss the common nursing challenges for that personality.
  3. Learn what techniques and tricks you can do to overcome those challenges and reach your nursing goals.

Ready to meet your Muppet Baby?

Although changing your nursing style to match different personalities is a great first-step towards solving breastfeeding problems, I’d strongly advise you to give your lactation consultant a call as well.  Not all problems can be solved with a general post!  An LC can look over your specific baby, with your specific nursing rhythm and make case-by-case suggestions that can transform your breastfeeding experience!  (Click here to find an LC in your area!)

Solving Miss Piggy
Breastfeeding Problems

Miss Piggy is determined to get her way as quickly as possible.

Miss Piggy is a take-charge, don’t-give-me-any-crap kinda woman pig.  She’s comfortable in her own pigskin. There’s no outfit she won’t wear, no style she won’t try.

My advice? Don’t annoy her. She’ll round-house kick you to the face. (Chuck Norris style!)  Who cares what others are doing? She is the only person worth impressing!

Miss Piggy gets things done. She’s focused. Determined. Nothing stands in her way.  She is the definition of self-confidence.

Is Your Baby a Miss Piggy?

Here’s how you know if your infant has the Miss Piggy Nursing Temperament:

  • Is she super-focused on nursing? Making it just as easy nursing her at the mall as it is in a dark quiet room?
  • Does she nurse the entire time without looking up or noticing anyone else around her?
  • Does she snarf down milk like it’s her last meal?
  • Does she occasionally over-indulge? Eating so much so fast that she sometimes vomits afterwards?
  • Does she have a quick temper when it comes to mealtimes?
  • Does she avoid playing around, getting straight down to things right away?
  • Does she have a super strong suck?

Miss Piggy Breastfeeding Problems

Miss Piggy nursing temperaments tend to have the most breastfeeding problems during the first 2 weeks of life.

The second your nipple gets anywhere near her mouth she latches and sucks her little heart out. Which is probably fine, if your latch is correct.  But if your nursing sessions are leaving fingernail tears in the couch, your latch is WRONGO and needs to be redone. Detach her with your pinky and re-adjust.

Miss Piggy babies are also very impatient to eat. You have about 3-seconds to get a perfect latch in place before she screams the house down.

Yeah…that’s a really short window to hit a bulls-eye. And if you miss the target?  You have to take her OFF the breast to re-adjust. (She’s going to be so mad…)

Miss Piggy Breastfeeding Solutions

Here’s what to do if you have a Miss Piggy Feeder:

  • Watch for the feeding cues a little earlier than you have been.  This will catch her before she realizes she’s hungry, buying you valuable practice time. It will also avoid any feeding tantrums while you’re learning what a good latch feels like.  You don’t want her snorting with hunger!
  • For babies under 6 months, that means looking for those hungry signs every hour and half or so.  Babies this age usually need 8-12 feedings in a 24 hour period.  (Hint:  Keeping a nursing log is a GREAT way to spot your baby’s natural feeding rhythms!)

This may feel overwhelming at first, but don’t get discouraged. Perseverance is the key with a Miss Piggy!

Solving Gonzo
Breastfeeding Problems

Gonzo a very misunderstood person…um… creature…um…whatever.

The Gonzo nurser is a gourmet, savoring every mouthful.

True, some of his artistic expressions seem a little “out there” (like balancing a Grand Piano on his nose), but the dedication to his work is impressive. He goes to great lengths to carefully prepare for each of his disasters acts.

For example, in the infamous motorcycle jump, he thoughtfully chained old hecklers Statler and Waldorf to their seats “for their own safety”. He didn’t want them to miss out in the opportunity of being his landing spot!

Art appreciation is in the eye of the performer. No one else may understand the deeper meaning behind eating a radial tire to The Flight of the Bumblebee, but he does and that’s enough.

He will happily preform just for the sake of preforming.

Is Your Infant a Gonzo?

Is your infant an artiste at heart, just like Gonzo?

  • Does she play around with the nipple before actually starting to eat?
  • Does she savor the milk like a fine wine? Smacking her lips and dribbling?
  • Does she linger over the meal, taking forever to nurse?
  • Is she easily distractible? Stopping every so often to drink in her surroundings and relish the experience?

Gonzo Breastfeeding Problems

Gonzo nursers are primarily frustrating because they’re so gosh darn slow!   Feeding sessions drag on and on and on….as your baby relishes each gulp of milk.

It’s tempting to move things along.

Resist!

Rushing your gourmet eater is a recipe for breastfeeding problems.

  • First, it will make her really mad and she’ll take that anger out on your tender nipples! You can’t rush art!
  • Secondly, rushing may cause her to stop feeding before she’s really full. So instead of waking at 4am to eat, she’s up again at 2. (Yea for you!)

I know you may feel like a milk cow, nursing every 2-3 hours, but if she doesn’t learn the important “I’m full” feelings, you’ll quickly become a 24-hour snack bar.

Gonzo Breastfeeding Solutions

Here’s a plan of attack to conquer your Gonzo’s snail-paced nursing:

  • Fight against distractions by nursing in the most-boring spot you can find. The darker the room, the better.
  • Use a noisemaker or fan to drown out siblings.
  • If you have to nurse in a semi-public place, use a nursing cover.
  • Make A Happy Nursing Place. This means something to drink, read, listen to, or play with while you’re sitting. If you are entertained, you’ll be a lot less likely to say “You’re done!” when she’s only halfway through.

Solving Fozzie
Breastfeeding Problems

Fozzie Bear is very passionate about his comedy act. It’s just too bad that passion does not actually turn into funny jokes.

An over-eager performer, Fozzie’s acts usually fizzle.

No matter how excited Fozzie is about something, it’s almost always guaranteed to fail. But that doesn’t stop him from trying. He’s an eternal optimist.

Yes, he’ll make you groan more than giggle. But he’s just so garsh darn cute. His can-do excited attitude, even when he can’t seem to do much of anything, is infectiously endearing.

In fact, you could say that it makes him utterly bearable.

Wocka Wocka!

Is Your Baby a Fozzie?

Here are the not-so-funny signs you’re raising a Fozzie breastfeeder:

  • Does she get super excited when it’s feeding time? Kicking legs, squeezing fists, and practically snorting with anticipation?
  • Is she pretty gassy after eating? Gulping milk like it could go sour?
  • Does she slip off the nipple frequently in her excitement? Spraying the room with milk and having to be properly re-attached?
  • Is she pretty focused obsessed on the breast? And could care less where you’re feeding her?

Fozzie Breastfeeding Problems

Your baby’s excited-almost-frantic response to dinnertime is actually hurting her chances of getting a good meal.  She gets so worked up that she doesn’t form a latch that will stick.  She roots almost constantly, trying to turn anything (even Dad’s chin) into a food source.  There is nothing, NOTHING, in this world more important to your Fozzie baby than her next meal.

Finally, another one of the breastfeeding problems commonly facing Fozzie feeders is gas. These nursers tend to gulp more than suck. Gulping = swallowing air.

Fozzie Breastfeeding Solutions

Here are some solutions to solving Fozzie-style breastfeeding problems:

  • Help her with her latching problem by keeping your breasts soft and pliable. Engorgement is Enemy No. 1! (See my step-by-step infographic for more latching tips
  • Avoid the “too excited to eat” problem by feeding her at the earliest sign of hunger.
  • Feed her immediately after waking up. Feeding times must have priority for this baby. Food first, diaper changes second. The only exception would be if your baby has a particularly bad diaper rash that is irritating her. In those cases, change her first, powder her bum, treat the rash, then feed her as quickly as possible.
  • Regarding the gassy tummy, get your hands on some gas drops. Then plan on burping her every 10 minutes or when she starts squirming on the breast (a sure sign of a trapped tummy bubble).
  • To fix engorged boulder boobies, squeeze them gently in the shower or into a towel. The expressed milk will soften them up.

Solving Animal
Breastfeeding Problems

Animal is a tad…selectively obsessive.

Animal is one wild Muppet. Especially when it comes to drumming.

He’s a crazed percussionist with three styles of music — loud, louder, and deafening. (~ Muppet Wiki)

I think the only other Muppet that can match him in terms of obsessiveness would be Cookie Monster.

Can anything really compare to hitting things with sticks?  Really, what else in life is there?  His pent-up energy explodes with such passion at the drum set, that public safety requires he’s restrained with chains.

Is there a support group for drum addictions? (If there is, can my 2-year-old register?)

Is Your Infant an Animal?

Your little princess may be months away from matching Animal’s vocabulary, *Me HUN-GEE!* but she could match Animal’s obsessive personality right out of the womb.

  • Does she seem to go from not-hungry to ravenous-screaming almost instantly?
  • Did she seem to resent colostrum? Pulling her head away and screaming foul?
  • Do you have to wake her up to feed? As if “eating” isn’t top on the priority list?
  • Does she quickly seem to lose interest in nursing? Falling asleep easily at the breast?
  • Is she Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Seemingly an “easy” baby, sleeping all the time…but then transforming into a screaming nightmare unexpectedly?

Animal Breastfeeding Problems

Just as Animal’s life is focused on drumming, with little room for other things, the Animal breastfeeder is also obsessed about something. It’s just not eating.  This explains his stick legs. (What else could explain them?)

If your breastfeeder is an “Animal” she may have the same problem. These babies tend to be labeled “Failure to Thrive” more than the other nursing temperaments. When she suddenly realizes her tummy is rumbling…TAKE COVER. She can shatter glass with that voice.

A newborn “Animal” can be particularly challenging. Here she is, ready to eat for the first time, and you offer colostrum. (It’s not your fault, really. That’s all you can make for the first 2-7 days.)

It’s like giving Animal a Fisher-Price drum for Christmas. She HATES IT.

Congrats! She’s 30-minutes old and you already have breastfeeding problems!

But before Screamfest really gets rolling, let’s give you some tips to shut down the concert ahead of time.

Animal Breastfeeding Solutions

Let’s tackle the “Failure to Thrive” issue first.

Part of the reason she may not gaining weight may be that she’s not eating frequently enough. Remember, these babies don’t always remember to eat! They’re WAY more interested in something else.

  • Step in and do her “hunger watch” for her. Make a simple note to put her on the breast again 2.5 – 3 hours since the last time you had her on the breast (from start to start).
  • Track her growth and wet/dirty diapers to keep on top of her intake. (Make tracking easy with a Baby Daily Logbook.)

Regarding the colostrum conundrum: Buy some corded ear plugs. (Corded to avoid choking hazards later on for little ones.) They take the edge off..and make a huge sanity difference.

Your milk comes in when it comes in. The more often you put her on the breast, the faster it will come. The more stimulation you get, the faster those milk ducts will pump out the liquid gold she’s screaming for. (Sometimes every 1.5 – 2 hours may be required!)

  • If you just can’t wait for the milk to come in, and she’s refusing to eat and you’re emotionally drained, use a Supplemental Nurser. It has a small tube that fits next to your nipple so she can get supplemental formula while she’s breastfeeding. Perhaps not ideal, but one step closer to keeping you on the breastfeeding bandwagon.

Solving Kermit
Breastfeeding Problems

Kermit is a frog who has tasted the finer flies of life.

Kermit the Frog is the glue that holds the rest of the Muppets together.  Somehow, he manages the chaos that is The Muppets, getting them organized into performances that are such disasters we can’t help but keep watching.

As much as I love Kermit, I must admit…he’s a little on the pampered side.

Celebrities fawn over him.

Fans worship him.

He’s authored books, given commencement speeches (!!!), and even has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  When it comes to The Muppets, he’s the top dog frog.

He drives a BMW and has a Platinum Level, no-fee, no-limit credit card he uses to treat his friends to a vacation in New York City.

He’s not snobby, just…comfortable with his lifestyle. (Don’t get me wrong, he certainly deserves it. Miss Piggy isn’t the cheapest girlfriend.)

Is Your Infant a Kermit?

Here are the signs that your infant shares Kermit’s successful temperament.

  • Is she all about comfort? Insisting on being held just so?
  • Does she take long breaks between sucks? Resting her “sore cheeks”?
  • Does she fall asleep constantly on the breast? And then wakes asking for a milkshake dessert?
  • Is Mom her favorite pacifier? Why settle for a cheap imitation when you can get the real-deal?

Kermit Breastfeeding Problems

The Kermit only wants to do one: lie in moms arms, snoozing and snuckling all day long.  That will be your chief problem with this baby.

You either keep her awake to eat (and fill that tummy up) or strap her to your chest and go topless around the house. (I’m sure your husband won’t mind…until your in-laws drop by.)

Kermit Breastfeeding Solutions

Unless you like bed-sores, you’re going to have to break this habit of sleep-nurse-doze-suck-snooze-snack.  Here’s a few things you can try to keep her awake:

  • Strip your dozer down to her diaper during feedings (or a onesie if it’s a little chilly).
  • Brush her face occasionally with a damp (not wet) cloth.
  • Switching back and forth between breasts. (The movement will wake her.)
  • Burp her every 10 minutes.
  • Blow gently on her forehead.
  • Feed her in bright room, with music and noise.

Avoid lullabies and other sleepy-time tricks, unless of course, you’re wanting her to sleep.

Remember: You’re the Expert Here

You are the expert when it comes to your baby.  You’re the first thing he sees in the morning and you’re the last thing she sees at night.

No one knows this baby like you do.

These are probably clues you started noticing when in pregnancy.

  • When was he most active?
  • Was she a slow roller?
  • Or a quick jabber?

They are clues you can start picking up on right after birth:

  • Did he look everywhere but at you? Trying to grasp everything?
  • Did she just want to cuddle?
  • Did he fight to keep his head as high up as possible, so he wouldn’t miss a thing?

Those are the first indicators of the personality your little one is going to grow into. I saw those things at birth, and they still ring true of each one of my children now.

By grasping on to those early preferences, you are leaping forward in understanding how this baby needs to be breastfed and watching those breastfeeding problems fade into memory.  Again, if you’ve tried these things and you’re still struggling, it’s time to find a lactation consultant in your area that can give you specific advice for YOUR breasts and YOUR baby.

So tell me, which Muppet is your baby?


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